Renovating can be a daunting process, so we asked Jean Brownhill, founder and CEO of Sweeten, a platform that helps people find expert advice and get matched with vetted general contractors, for her best remodeling tips and tricks.  

There’s nothing worse than falling in love with a slab of swirly Calacatta Viola marble for your kitchen countertops only to realize you can’t possibly afford it. The best way to avoid disappointment is to go in already knowing your renovation budget. How much does it cost to remodel a kitchen, you ask? It’s really up to where you want to save and where you want to splurge—and whether you plan to sell your home afterward. 

If you’re thinking of putting your place on the market in the next few years and hope to get a solid return on your investment, plan for your kitchen renovation to cost between 5 and 10 percent of the house’s total value. If this is your forever home, however, how much you pay is up to you and your personal taste.

What factors into the cost of a kitchen remodel?

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Just like a bathroom makeover, labor (your contractor and their crew) and materials (paint, cabinetry, flooring, and more) are the two main cost buckets. Typically, one-third of your budget will go toward the former and two-thirds to the latter, although it depends on the complexity of the renovation and the quality of the materials. A service like Sweeten can connect you with a vetted pro within your price range. Your biggest splurge on the materials side will likely be cabinets, which typically eat up 50 percent of the budget (and the majority of the space’s real estate). Put together “must-have” and “nice-to-have” lists to help you prioritize how to allocate the rest of your money.

What is the most budget-friendly kitchen renovation?

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There are ways to put a Band-Aid on a not-so-great space that add up to less than a dinner out (we’re looking at you, contact paper). If you’re planning a true kitchen renovation, however, your best bet is to lower labor costs and make it a rip-and-replace job, meaning the layout of the kitchen stays the same, with pipes and appliances remaining where they are. 

When it comes time to shop for finishes, consider energy-efficient appliances (which could help reduce your energy bill in the long run), laminate countertops, and mid-grade fixtures. A note on cabinetry: Even if you’re going for budget-friendly cupboards, make sure they can handle wear and tear—you don’t want to end up needing to replace them prematurely.

How Much It Costs to Remodel a Kitchen in Four Major Cities

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Both the budget and mid-grade options in each of these cities most likely involve a rip-and-replace renovation, where nothing changes except the aesthetics (the sink, appliances, and the like). The price difference comes from upgrading the finishes—for a middle-of-the-road reno, expect to get stock or semi-custom cabinets, new appliances, manufactured or quartz countertops, and an island. 

A high-end kitchen remodel, on the other hand, takes into account the labor costs of a floor-plan overhaul, as well as the use of more expensive materials like natural stone countertops (like that Calacatta Viola marble) and imported backsplash tile. You’re probably also in the market for top-of-the-line appliances, custom millwork, and luxury fixtures.

New York City 

Pricing is based on a 50- to 100-square-foot kitchen with full-size appliances.

  • Full kitchen renovation, budget-level finishes: Starting around $25,000
  • Full kitchen renovation, mid-grade finishes: Starting at $35,000 
  • Full kitchen renovation, high-end finishes: Starting at $65,000

Dallas

Pricing is based on a typical 200-square-foot kitchen with full-size appliances.

  • Full kitchen renovation, budget-level finishes: Starting around $15,000
  • Full kitchen renovation, mid-grade finishes: Starting at $25,000
  • Full kitchen renovation, high-end finishes: Starting at $40,000

Chicago

Pricing based on a typical 200-square-foot kitchen with full-size appliances

  • Full kitchen renovation, budget-level finishes: Starting around $22,000
  • Full kitchen renovation, mid-grade finishes: Starting at $30,000 
  • Full kitchen renovation, high-end finishes: Starting at $60,000 

Los Angeles

Pricing is based on a typical 200-square-foot kitchen with full-size appliances.

  • Full kitchen renovation, budget-level finishes: Starting around $27,000
  • Full kitchen renovation, mid-grade finishes: Starting at $40,000 
  • Full kitchen renovation, high-end finishes: Starting at $75,000

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